Toyota and Tiger Woods have a lot in common. No, Woods isn’t a Toyota pitchman. He hawked Buicks for nine years, until GM and Woods parted ways last year.
What Toyota and Tiger have in common is this: They both built an image of trust that their behavior eventually betrayed. Woods’ infidelities are obviously a betrayal of his marriage and a breach of public trust for those who idolized him. (Scroll down to see last week’s posts on Woods.)
Now, Toyota has fallen from its Olympian heights.
Long vaunted for unparalleled quality and service, Toyota has made the largest recall of vehicles in American history. Millions of vehicles will be checked for acceleration problems, including such models as RAV4, Corolla, Matrix, Avalon, Camry, Highligher, Tundra, and Sequoia.
The massive recall isn’t the most troubling part. The breach of trust comes from how they handled it. Apparently, Toyota knew about the problems, but chose to minimize them and made misleading public statements. And, Toyota negotiated with regulators to limit a recall, saving $100 million as a result. According to internal documents reported in the press, Toyota chalked this up as a legislative “win.”
In other words, Toyota didn’t act like the company we thought it was—it acted like an American car company.
Like Woods, Toyota’s public image was at odds with its private behavior.
If you own a Toyota, do you feel a breach of trust? Even if you don’t, what’s your opinion of the trials and travails of the world’s leading producer of automobiles?